Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: On Killing

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and SocietyOn Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First off, I'll admit I'm a firm supporter of the United States Constitution's Second Amendment and of self-defense in general. Many people believe that means I drink the blood of kittens and babies on a regular basis, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

The Good

Nobody wants to kill. Period.

You don't believe me? Just read this book.

On Killing is a masterful study of the psychological aspects of humans who kill. It shows that humans psychologically go to great lengths to avoid killing, usually only performing the act after extensive training. When a life is taken, there is a mental cost that must be paid, and Dave Grossman discusses each of these at length.

He also discusses the various aspects of what makes killing easier (such as distance) and the unintentional training we provide our children.

The Bad
On Killing is at times very graphic. While the entire work is objective with scores of soldier's war stories, some are as horrific as they are sad. The war atrocities section and the accounts of soldiers dealing with the consequences of killing provide meaningful context into what should be the ultimate taboo.

The Spin
I read this book as a writer wanting to understand the impact taking a life had on someone. 'On Killing' delivered this in spades. But more than that, it provided a deeper look at the effect society has on individuals, especially soldiers, who are asked to kill.

On Killing offers a meaty read with a heavy dose of 'something to think about.' It's an important book and worthy of your time.

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